Graduate Students

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First-Year Students (Entered 2013)

Samuel-Burcham-ed Sam Burcham is a religious-historian-turned-folklorist interested in personal narratives, folktales, and other verbal genres as a way by which participants engage in talking about belief. His background in the historical study of Europe allows him to straddle the fence between the aforementioned forms and that of the fairy tale. Sam and his wife Holly are from rural Mississippi.
 Katy-Clune-ed2 Kathryn (Katy) Clune is most recently from Washington, D.C. and grew up around the world, thanks to her father’s career in the Foreign Service. She earned her B.A. at UC–Berkeley in art history, with an emphasis in contemporary art and politics. Katy has supported the public work of cultural organizations since 2008, most recently working as communications manager for The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.. Inspired by global cultural heritage, she has delved into issues of cultural representation and audience engagement while at Carolina.​ Her thesis project, “Sticky Rice and Southern Hospitality: The Making of Laos in Morganton, North Carolina,” explores how Lao-American immigrants craft their homeland in a rural southern community.
 Sandra-Davidson-ed Born and raised North Carolina, Sandra Davidson received her B.A. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. After graduating she founded Living Narratives, a company that helped businesses, families, and organizations document and preserve their history through oral histories and personal narratives. She believes personal stories can change perspectives and is interested in exploring the potential of Folklore in the arena of public health education and outreach around issues related to food.  
 Graham-Hoppe-ed Graham Hoppe was born in Michigan City, Indiana and grew up in Indianapolis. After graduating with his B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He worked in radio before moving into the culinary arts. After living and working in Chicago for several years he moved to Greensboro, NC where he worked at a bakery, for a minor league baseball team, and for the public library. Graham is primarily interested in Southern food and music. He lives in Chapel Hill with his fiancé Amy.
 Alison-Kiney-ed Alison Kinney values the artistic expressions of our everyday lives. She views creative collaboration as a means to question community boarders while fostering community cohesion. She graduated in 2008 from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in Anthropology and Spanish. After spending a few years teaching, traveling, singing, and crafting, she found her way to folklore- a perfect intersection of culture and creativity. 
 Phillip-MacDonald-ed Phillip MacDonald, a native North Carolinian, graduated in 2012 from North Carolina State University with a B.A. in History.  During his time as an undergraduate, he completed a history honors thesis titled “Yonder Stand Ten Thousand: African American Bluesmen, Mobility, Masculinity and the Question of Violence in Mississippi.”  Phillip is currently pursuing an MA in Folklore to continue his research in African American expression relating to identity, history, and consciousness.  When not conducting research, Phillip also enjoys photography, creating music, and collecting vinyl.
 Caroline Miller Caroline Miller, a native North Carolinian, graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Anthropology. As an undergraduate she completed an honors thesis titled, “Playing Poor: Images of Travellers in Settled People’s Narratives.” She is interested in exploring issues of identity, marginalized groups, narrative analysis, and Irish culture and music.

Second Year Students (Entered 2012)

Laura-Fieselman-ed Laura Fieselman was born and raised in North Carolina and is excited to root her graduate work here. Inspired by sustainability work and small-scale farming prior to beginning graduate school, her research focuses on the contemporary homesteading movement. Laura received her B.A. with first class honours from McGill University and she is engaged with the Weiss Urban Livability Program and the Carolina Center for Public Service while at UNC.
Rachel-Mabe-ed Rachel Mabe graduated from Bryn Mawr College, where she studied English and creative writing. Before coming to North Carolina to pursue a degree in folklore, Rachel spent time working, first at a small marketing company, and then as a middle school math teacher. Her folklore interests lie primarily at the intersection of ethnography and material culture, specifically the material culture of the home-people and their possessions. During her time at UNC she’s found that she particularly enjoys documentary work-talking to, writing about, and photographing people for a general, rather than purely academic, audience. She’s also interested in found objects, abandoned places, and exploring in general.
Kelsey-Michael-ed Kelsey Michael received a B.A. with honors in English from Harding University. As an undergraduate Kelsey co-founded a documentary video project in Mozambique, and before coming to UNC she produced short films for the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. An Alabama native, Kelsey’s current research interests include gender and performance in the church in which she grew up and the construction of southern space/place. Her thesis work explores identity performance through domestic architecture in Durham suburbs.  
 Laura Pearce Laura Pearce graduated with honors from Ohio State University, where she received a B.A. in International Studies. Having also studied folklore, she became increasingly interested in issues of the representation of the folklore of minority or foreign groups in other cultures and the representation of traditional forms in popular culture. This led her to pursue folklore on a higher level, after engaging in part-time work with artists and the local library in Cincinnati, Ohio. Laura has a particular interest in China, having studied Mandarin and briefly studied abroad in Beijing. She hopes to not only be able to pursue her interests in a Chinese context, but to be able to raise greater awareness in the U.S. of Chinese issues and dynamics.
Danielle Riley received her B.A. in English and education from The College of William and Mary, and began teaching in 1992.  Since then, she has worked primarily as an English teacher and literacy instructor in urban public schools. As a folklorist, Danielle is curious about the ways in which young people – especially those who have moved into new towns or cities – define themselves and tell their life stories through various modes of street art and tattoos.  She believes that a better understanding of the narrative behind these artistic expressions can inform development of academic curricula and youth outreach programs supportive of non-traditional and marginalized students.